Man, nothing feels like packing up and getting ready for a road trip.
This oneÔÇÖs really different, though. IÔÇÖm stuffing gear IÔÇÖve never worn into a helmet-bag and backpack. IÔÇÖm getting ready for next weekendÔÇÖs flight to a Michigan town IÔÇÖve never visited to pick up a bike IÔÇÖve never seen in person, then ride it home on roads IÔÇÖve never ridden.
By the way- thanks to the member who went and checked the bike out for me- you know who you are. That was beyond the call of duty- IÔÇÖm not disappointed- everything is exactly as you and Grand Rapids BMW said it would be.
My gear is not yet broken-in. The pearl-black Arai is exactly the same as the five-month-old scratched, dented lid it replaces, but the pads havenÔÇÖt even started molding to my head and face yet. The only blemishes are road-scrapes on the tinted shield I brought over from the old one. IÔÇÖd transfer the pads, too, but IÔÇÖm wary of anything helmet-related that has been through a wreck. They might be more comfy, but thereÔÇÖs probably some leftover Panic Karma in those things from the ÔÇ£oh-no-secondÔÇØ when I realized I was going down.
IÔÇÖm looking forward to a new start.
The new Cortech jacket is stiff, bright and new-smelling when I pull it off the garage peg. I note the contrast with the old one behind it that I havenÔÇÖt gotten around to tossing yet. The old one is faded and wrinkled, and smells of the dust and exhaust of six years and fifty thousand miles. It is also worn down to near-transparency on the right shoulder and chest, and there are holes in the right elbow where the asphalt ground it away. I pause and try them both on. The new one is solid and reassuring, but itÔÇÖs not ÔÇ£mineÔÇØ yet. The old one is comfortable, and familiar, but itÔÇÖs all used up. Shame, too- I had just treated the thing with Nik-Wax, and hadnÔÇÖt even ridden in the rain yet. I still donÔÇÖt toss it.
I stuff my new leather pants into my backpack. They fit, but theyÔÇÖve never been really worn either. I didnÔÇÖt have any problem tossing the Levis they replaced into the trash- IÔÇÖm still putting fresh band-aids and Neosporin on my knee every morning.
I stuff my pack and helmet bag with silkies, undies, summer gloves, winter gloves, rain pants, extra shield, turtleneck, camelback, cargo net, Helen straps, flashlight, batteries, wool socks, atlas, airport-friendly toiletries, notebook, camera, Gold Bond, phone charger, and my Anonymous book. No room for the new jacketÔÇÖs liner. No big deal, if itÔÇÖs cold IÔÇÖll pop into Walmart for another layer.
I think twice, and pull the atlas back out. I need to double check my route- IÔÇÖm planning on taking two days for an 800 mile ride, might as well find good backroads and get off the slab since IÔÇÖll be taking it easy. Maybe IÔÇÖll take three days.
I look at the map. Ah-ha, the Falling Leaf rally is next weekend, too, and itÔÇÖs only five hundred miles out of my way. My job may be moving to St. Louis soon, it would be a good idea to check out the area, right? I make a note to check the time-off calendar at work- maybe I should get used to the new wheels with a visit to my first real rally, meet the locals? HmmmÔÇª
CanÔÇÖt get the 15th off. No Falling Leaf. Realistically, I havenÔÇÖt been on a long day-ride in a long time anyhow, and my ribs and muscles are still a little bit sore from the accident. Best to stick with heading straight home in two days, and leave myself Sunday in case things go poorly.
I re-check the forecast for Grand Rapids and find out there actually IS room in my bag for the jacket liner.
Have been caught multiple times at work studying ÔÇ£Ohio Motorcycle RoadsÔÇØ, ÔÇ£West Virginia Motorcycle Roads,ÔÇØ and of course the MOA Forum. Re-check weather.com. Find room in bag for another layer. Decide to take three days.
Up at 4:00am. Out of the house by 4:30. In the air by 6:30, and Mike from BMW Grand Rapids picks me up at the airport at 10:15. Thirty minute drive to the shop, I take a quick test ride. ÔÇ£DonÔÇÖt worry, IÔÇÖm not going far- you guys have my long underwear in the backpack by your desk.ÔÇØ I come back, tell Mike I wonÔÇÖt need a ride back to the airport, and sign the papers. By 12:15 IÔÇÖm on the road.
The bike itself is not pristine, but itÔÇÖs in good shape for a bike with 26,000 miles on it, certainly cleaner than my old bike- even before the last 100 feet. Tires, brakes, and finish are better than advertised, and by reputation I tend to trust these guys. IÔÇÖve ridden 1150GSÔÇÖs before, but not in a while. I know I like them- IÔÇÖm buying this one to see how I like living with one long-term.
Good thing I brought the bungee net- the Z-technik shield buffets my head, and the original shield take up the entire Givi caseÔÇª and I end up netting my helmet bag to the passenger seat. Saves me the trouble of deciding what to leave behind. No worries.
ItÔÇÖs 41 degrees when I leave the shop. The scenery around Grand Rapids is as advertised- flat, straight, and cold. The good news is that the speed limit is 70, and I quickly learn that traffic feels free to move at 80, 85, or 90mph. This thing doesnÔÇÖt have the zoom of my old K1200RS, but these speeds are no problem at all. I had wondered how it would feel to be on a bike again after the accident- would I have flashbacks, or find out I had turned chicken? As it happened, it was no problemÔÇª IÔÇÖm just going for a ride.
I slab it all the way to Toledo, then pull onto Ohio Rte 2 along Lake Erie in hopes of seeing my first Great Lake. Went all the way to Sandusky, hardly saw the water at all, nuts to me. I wheeled into a Comfort Inn with an attached sports bar and was quoted $119.00 for the night. Twenty minutes later I checked into a Motel 6 for $49.99, with a Subway grinder in one saddlebag and a 6-pack of Samuel Adams in the other. ItÔÇÖs more my style anyhow- even with unlimited funds IÔÇÖd probably choose the Motel 6. I make some quick phone calls to wife, parents, friends, and fellow Sox fans, then I settle in to watch the game and study the map for tomorrow.
I got a room with a view.
And yes, it's home sweet home.
I could maybe blast home tomorrow if I get up early. 600-ish miles, but I havenÔÇÖt done a big (or even medium-sized) day in a while. Plus IÔÇÖm on a new bike. Plus I have reserved the weekend, and can take backroads. It might be a while before IÔÇÖm up this way again. See ya Sunday, baby.
I wake up late. I shower and scoop everything into the bags, check out and thumb the starter. I buh-buh-buh my way down to MawÔÇÖs Restaurant on 250 just south of the OH Turnpike for a monster breakfast, then hit the road. ItÔÇÖs 41 degrees again.
Yesterday was odd. Today feels more normal. I make my way to Rte 6 along the lake, just taking my time. I follow my own rule about never speeding near the water (no scientific evidence for it, I admit) and see enough police cars to keep the rule on the books. Travel is slow, but itÔÇÖs a nice area. All beach towns are different, but they all have a similar feel. These towns have the campy easygoing waterside feeling, but they are marked by tons of public parks and several beaches.
ItÔÇÖs a very nice area. By the time I hit Rocky River, IÔÇÖve had enough of the 35 mph deal- itÔÇÖs already 9:30 am and IÔÇÖve hardly gone 75 miles. At a gas stop, I notice the oil is only halfway up the sight glass so I check the Anon book and the map, and head down Riverside Drive to the Airport then take a left to Sills, the Cleveland BMW shop, to pick up a roadie quart (I never burn a drop from there home, but I donÔÇÖt regret having it in the side case).
On the way I ride along with a guy on a K75 ÔÇô when we reach the shop he introduces himself, saying ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm an ADVRider too.ÔÇØ IÔÇÖm not, and it sort of confuses me. Then I remember the ADV sticker that was on the bags when I bought the bikeÔÇª aha. IÔÇÖm just glad he didnÔÇÖt give me the salute, I wouldnÔÇÖt have known what IÔÇÖd done wrong. Wonder whether I should take the sticker off or join ADVRider? He and I chat for a while, and another rider joins the conversation. It makes me wish IÔÇÖd run down to Falling Leaf.
I stay too long at SillÔÇÖs, then hump it down I-77 to Canton. IÔÇÖm running behind, so I skip the NFL hall of fame and jump on Rte 800 South. ItÔÇÖs described as 109 miles of hills and scenery that get more technical as you go along. Sounds like a perfect way to get used to the big GS. In Dover I pass a couple of bars and keep going even though there are bikes in the lot. I love beer as much as anybody, but I never touch it (even one) until IÔÇÖm done riding for the day. I end up being the only person in a little deli, having a sandwich and salad (what happened to the days when Cheeseburger was a food group?). ItÔÇÖs still cold, and IÔÇÖm juggling layers and camelback while I eat- IÔÇÖm obviously a spectacle. They are relieved to see me go just as a ÔÇ£normalÔÇØ family comes in.
Route 800 is exactly as promised. After it splits from 250 in Dennison the sun comes out. I find more frequent elevation changes and the start of some sweepers. After I cross I-70 the switchbacks and really good roads start. The fall foliage is just getting serious, and IÔÇÖm starting to figure out the overdrive tranny. The twin has a much different power delivery than the old K, but IÔÇÖm getting used to it enough that IÔÇÖm starting to get in the groove again. IÔÇÖm focusing on being smooth rather than going fast, and itÔÇÖs all finally coming together. By the last 20 miles before Fly, OH, IÔÇÖm in some really tight, technical stuff and IÔÇÖm really enjoying the ride. I take a right onto route 7 and stop at a rest area for pics and a quick nature-break.
Route 7 follows the Ohio River from Fly down to I-77. ItÔÇÖs a gentle relaxing ride with great views of the river, and the sunny day has hit a perfect temperature. IÔÇÖm still running late, so when I hit I-77 I take it down to Charleston, WV. IÔÇÖm glad I did; I-77 is one of the best stretches of interstate IÔÇÖve ever ridden. I get behind some fast-moving traffic and cruise at 80-90 mph down 85 miles of long, perfect sweepers and throttle-on rushes up and down hills. The scenery, corners, and elevation changes are great- IÔÇÖd like to pass the hat and see if maybe we could rent it for an afternoon and run-it-as-you-like. No LEOÔÇÖs, no SUVÔÇÖs, just a bunch of grinning idiots on a nice long motorcycle ride. IÔÇÖm actually sorry when I hit Charleston.
I cross the Kanawha and stop for a six-pack, then point my big google-eyed headlights to the Motel 6. The room has recently been converted to ÔÇ£non-smokingÔÇØ and apparently all theyÔÇÖve done is stick up the sign and take the ashtrays out. IÔÇÖm not complaining, IÔÇÖve paid more for worse bunks. The people in the next room stop me- ÔÇ£Hey, is that your bike? We saw you pass us a while ago. We used to ride everywhere we wentÔÇªÔÇØ Later, another guy stops me in the parking lot- he and his son ride together, but heÔÇÖs amazed that I went all the way to Michigan to buy my bike. I donÔÇÖt let on that IÔÇÖm taking three days to ride home.
Tonite itÔÇÖs DominoÔÇÖs, and after a couple Sammies I start the internal debate over whether to Join ADVRider or take the sticker off.
ÔÇ£Which costs more, joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Which is more likely to mess up my bags- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Which is more likely to irritate my wife- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Which takes longer- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Which involves more harsh solvents- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
ItÔÇÖs a relief when I finally fall asleep.